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Voting Laws Roundup: May 2022

This year, state lawmakers have focused on enacting election interference legislation, with six states already passing nine laws that threaten to undermine voters’ confidence in the security of elections.

Published: May 26, 2022

This year, state lawmakers, who spent 2021 passing laws that made it harder to vote, have focused more intently on elec­tion inter­fer­ence, passing nine laws that could lead to tamper­ing with how elec­tions are run and how results are determ­ined.

Elec­tion inter­fer­ence laws do two primary things. They open the door to partisan inter­fer­ence in elec­tions, or they threaten the people and processes that make elec­tions work. In many cases, these efforts are being justi­fied as meas­ures to combat base­less claims of wide­spread voter fraud and a stolen 2020 elec­tion. 

Between Janu­ary 1 and May 4, six state legis­latures — Alabama, Arizona, Flor­ida, Geor­gia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma — have passed nine elec­tion inter­fer­ence laws. As of May 4, at least 17 such bills intro­duced this year are still moving through five state legis­latures. Moving bills are those that have passed at least one cham­ber of the state legis­lature or have had some sort of commit­tee action (e.g., a hear­ing since the begin­ning of 2022, an amend­ment, or a commit­tee vote). In total, lawmakers in 27 states have proposed at least 148 elec­tion inter­fer­ence bills. 

In many of the same state legis­latures, lawmakers have contin­ued to intro­duce or enact laws that restrict access to the vote. Legis­la­tion is categor­ized as restrict­ive if it would make it harder for eligible Amer­ic­ans to register, stay on the rolls, and/or vote as compared to exist­ing state law. In addi­tion to two such laws enacted in Arizona and Missis­sippi, a restrict­ive ballot initi­at­ive in Arizona passed both houses and will be placed on the ballot for voters in the Novem­ber general elec­tion.

As of May 4, at least 34 bills with restrict­ive provi­sions are moving through 11 state legis­latures. Over­all, lawmakers in 39 states have considered at least 393 restrict­ive bills for the 2022 legis­lat­ive session. Since the begin­ning of 2021, 18 states have passed 34 restrict­ive voting laws, which can dispro­por­tion­ately affect voters of color. foot­note1_twph­d7k 1 As of Decem­ber 2021, the Bren­nan Center repor­ted that 19 states passed 34 restrict­ive laws in 2021. After obtain­ing addi­tional inform­a­tion about the way in which NV S.B. 84 and LA H.B. 167 will oper­ate in Nevada and Louisi­ana, respect­ively, we have removed the two laws from the list of restrict­ive laws passed in 2021: https://www.bren­nan­cen­ter.org/our-work/research-reports/voting-laws-roundup-decem­ber-2021.

At the same time, Arizona, Connecti­cut, New York, and Oregon enacted five laws that expand access to the vote. Legis­la­tion is categor­ized as expans­ive if it would make it easier for eligible Amer­ic­ans to register, stay on the rolls, and/or vote as compared to exist­ing state law. As of May 4, at least 48 bills with expans­ive provi­sions are moving through 16 state legis­latures and the DC City Coun­cil. Over­all, lawmakers in 44 states and Wash­ing­ton, DC, have considered at least 596 expans­ive bills for the 2022 legis­lat­ive session.

Almost half of the state legis­latures meet­ing in 2022 have now ended their legis­lat­ive sessions. foot­note2_7ctno6n 2 Regu­lar legis­lat­ive sessions in Alabama, Arkan­sas, Connecti­cut, Flor­ida, Geor­gia, Idaho, Illinois, Indi­ana, Kentucky, Mary­land, Missis­sippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Wash­ing­ton, West Virginia, and Wyom­ing concluded by May 4, 2022. Addi­tional states may have concluded their regu­lar legis­lat­ive session between May 4 and the public­a­tion of this report. Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas do not hold regu­lar sessions in even-numbered years.  Legis­latures are in the second year of their two-year sessions, when they gener­ally tend to pass fewer laws than in the first year. This year follows that trend.

Elec­tion Inter­fer­ence Legis­la­tion

Between Janu­ary 1 and May 4, six states (Alabama, Arizona, Flor­ida, Geor­gia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma) have enacted nine elec­tion inter­fer­ence laws. foot­note3_sq09dm7 3 AL H.B. 194, AZ H.B. 2492, FL S.B. 524, GA H.B. 1015, GA H.B. 1368, GA H.B. 1432, GA S.B. 441, KY H.B. 301, OK H.B. 3046. In addi­tion to these enacted laws, SC S.B. 108 was signed into law in South Caro­lina on May 13, after the cut-off date for this report. In addi­tion to contain­ing a mix of expans­ive and restrict­ive voting provi­sions, this law also creates a new mech­an­ism for the state legis­lature to seek the removal of any member of the State Elec­tion Commis­sion or the Commis­sion’s exec­ut­ive director. This provi­sion could allow for more partisan inter­fer­ence with elec­tion admin­is­tra­tion in the state.  As of May 4, at least 17 elec­tion inter­fer­ence bills are moving through five state legis­latures. foot­note4_aeb9si5 4 AZ H.B. 2237, AZ H.B. 2289, AZ H.B. 2378, AZ H.B. 2379, AZ H.B. 2780, AZ S.B. 1259, AZ S.B. 1285, AZ S.B. 1357, AZ S.B. 1475, AZ S.B. 1574, AZ S.B. 1629, KS S.B. 418, NH H.B. 1473, NH H.B. 1567, OK H.B. 3677, OK S.B. 1637, RI H.B. 7214.  Over­all, lawmakers in 27 states have intro­duced at least 148 elec­tion inter­fer­ence bills in the 2022 legis­lat­ive session. foot­note5_0rn9tjs 5 Elec­tion inter­fer­ence bills have been proposed in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Color­ado, Flor­ida, Geor­gia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missis­sippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hamp­shire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Caro­lina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Wash­ing­ton, West Virginia, and Wiscon­sin.

This legis­la­tion is fueled by elec­tion deni­al­ism and false­hoods about voter fraud. The passage of elec­tion inter­fer­ence legis­la­tion is part of an alarm­ing trend that emerged in state legis­latures in 2021 and repres­ents a direct legis­lat­ive attack on fair elec­tion admin­is­tra­tion.

Enacted Elec­tion Inter­fer­ence Legis­la­tion

The nine enacted elec­tion inter­fer­ence laws permit partisan actors to inter­fere with elec­tions oper­a­tions or over­turn elec­tion results, direct new resources toward prosec­ut­ing elec­tion crimes, and threaten elec­tion offi­cials with crim­inal penal­ties. Seven of these laws will be in place for the 2022 midterm elec­tions. foot­note6_zi8zkoc 6 GA H.B. 1015, a bill that restruc­tures a county elec­tion board that is discussed further below, takes effect in 2023. AZ H.B. 2492 was writ­ten to take effect in June 2022, but legis­la­tion has been enacted push­ing its effect­ive date to Decem­ber 2022.

  • Three laws in Geor­gia create a risk of partisan inter­fer­ence with elec­tions and elec­tion results. Two of the bills, GA H.B. 1368 and GA H.B. 1015, replace current elec­tion super­in­tend­ents and create new county boards of elec­tions in Miller and Mont­gomery counties. The members of the boards will be appoin­ted by partisan county commis­sion­ers. A similar bill, GA H.B. 1432, changes the makeup of the Dawson County Board of Elec­tions so that one party can effect­ively control a major­ity of the five seats. This legis­la­tion is part of a partic­u­lar trend where the Geor­gia Legis­lature has given county partisan commis­sion­ers more control over elec­tion admin­is­tra­tion. Similar Geor­gia laws from 2021 led to the ouster of several Black elec­tion offi­cials.
  • Two laws in Geor­gia and Flor­ida create new entit­ies dedic­ated to pursu­ing elec­tion crimes. Flor­id­a’s, FL S.B. 524, creates a new elec­tion crimes office within the Flor­ida Depart­ment of State, tasked with invest­ig­at­ing and refer­ring for prosec­u­tion viol­a­tions of elec­tion law. The law also requires the governor to appoint dedic­ated special officers to receive and invest­ig­ate elec­tion law complaints in each law enforce­ment region across the state. Simil­arly, GA S.B. 441 grants the Geor­gia Bureau of Invest­ig­a­tion author­ity to invest­ig­ate elec­tion crimes and refer any viol­a­tions for prosec­u­tion. Both pieces of legis­la­tion expand exist­ing author­ity and direct more resources toward invest­ig­at­ing and prosec­ut­ing elec­tion crimes, risk­ing the intim­id­a­tion or harass­ment of voters and elec­tion offi­cials. This legis­la­tion is fueled by the false pretense of voter fraud, which itself rarely occurs but contin­ues to be used as a base­less justi­fic­a­tion for addi­tional state invest­ig­at­ive and prosec­utorial resources.
  • Four laws in four states create new crim­inal penal­ties for elec­tion offi­cials. In Alabama, Kentucky, and Oklahoma, three new laws make it a crim­inal offense to soli­cit, accept, or use private fund­ing for elec­tion-related expenses. foot­note7_dejkps6 7 AL H.B. 194, KY H.B. 301, OK H.B. 3046. The Alabama law, however, carves out an excep­tion for private fund­ing during a public health emer­gency.  In 2020, elec­tion offi­cials’ accept­ance and use of private fund­ing enabled them to run safe and secure elec­tions. Crim­in­al­iz­ing that action prevents elec­tion offi­cials from access­ing fund­ing bene­fi­cial for elec­tion admin­is­tra­tion and puts them at risk for prosec­u­tion for other­wise ordin­ary conduct. And in Arizona, a new law estab­lishes a felony offense for an elec­tion offi­cial who fails to comport with new restrict­ive citizen­ship veri­fic­a­tion require­ments and inad­vert­ently accepts a noncit­izen’s voter regis­tra­tion. foot­note8_gn2j60j 8 AZ H.B. 2492.  Impos­ing crim­inal penal­ties on ordin­ary elec­tion admin­is­tra­tion conduct or inad­vert­ent mistakes could deter indi­vidu­als from serving as elec­tion offi­cials. At a time when elec­tion offi­cials are already fear­ful for their safety, the prospect of new crim­inal penal­ties adds another deterrent to staff­ing elec­tions.

Elec­tion Inter­fer­ence Bills That Are Moving

Bills initi­at­ing biased elec­tion reviews

Five bills moving in three states (Arizona, New Hamp­shire, and Rhode Island) would initi­ate biased, suspect reviews of elec­tions and elec­tion results. foot­note9_6i2o6wq 9 AZ H.B. 2780, AZ S.B. 1259, AZ S.B. 1629, NH H.B. 1473, RI H.B. 7214.  These reviews would lack trans­par­ency and fail to satisfy basic secur­ity, accur­acy, and reli­ab­il­ity meas­ures. They are also part of a move­ment in state legis­latures to under­mine faith in the elect­oral process.

  • Four of the bills moving in two states (Arizona and Rhode Island) would require or author­ize suspect audit processes for future elec­tions. foot­note10_a73n18w 10 AZ H.B. 2780, AZ S.B. 1259, AZ S.B. 1629, RI H.B. 7214. A fifth bill, NH H.B. 1473, would require a forensic audit of the 2020 general elec­tion in a specific county, demon­strat­ing how the myth that the results of the 2020 elec­tion were fraud­u­lent contin­ues to grip state lawmakers.  This legis­la­tion uniformly lacks basic secur­ity, accur­acy, and reli­ab­il­ity meas­ures for these suspect reviews, bestow­ing inor­din­ate discre­tion on indi­vidu­als, impos­ing no trans­par­ency require­ments, or fail­ing to mandate clear guidelines for how results are reviewed. For example, in Arizona, AZ S.B. 1259 would give the attor­ney general, the secret­ary of state, and the legis­lat­ive coun­cil, as well as any Arizona resid­ent, the broad power to demand a recount of an elec­tion or of specific precincts, voting centers, or elec­tion districts, despite the vote margin not meet­ing the recount threshold.
  • Three of the bills moving in Arizona would allow for citizens either to initi­ate flawed review processes or conduct their own reviews of voted ballots. foot­note11_ly5guis 11 AZ H.B. 2780, AZ S.B. 1259, AZ S.B. 1629.  These bills fail to satisfy secur­ity and reli­ab­il­ity meas­ures and would open the door to attempts by outside groups to dele­git­im­ize the elec­tion process. For example, AZ S.B. 1629 would require digital images of all voted ballots in federal elec­tions to be made publicly avail­able within 48 hours of an elec­tion district’s canvass results being published. This would allow outside groups to publish their own mislead­ing audits of any elec­tion and would also risk expos­ing voters’ personal inform­a­tion.

Bills that expand prosec­utorial author­ity related to elec­tions

Three bills moving in two states (Arizona and Oklahoma) would expand law enforce­ment’s power over elec­tion-related matters or would direct addi­tional resources toward invest­ig­at­ing or prosec­ut­ing alleged elec­tion-related crimes. foot­note12_bbrd2fj 12 AZ S.B. 1475, AZ S.B. 1629, OK S.B. 1637.  Given that actual voter fraud is vanish­ingly rare, these new powers could easily be misused to harass or intim­id­ate voters and elec­tion offi­cials for partisan gain, threat­en­ing fair elec­tions. For example, AZ S.B. 1475 would grant the attor­ney general new elec­tion-related invest­ig­at­ive powers.

Bills that impose new crim­inal or civil penal­ties on elec­tion offi­cials

Five bills moving in three states (Arizona, Oklahoma, and New Hamp­shire) would impose new crim­inal or civil penal­ties on elec­tion offi­cials for actions to expand voter access or for minor mistakes during their ordin­ary course of conduct, adding the risk of prosec­u­tion to already burdened elec­tion offi­cials and contrib­ut­ing to pres­sures that are push­ing elec­tion offi­cials to leave the profes­sion. foot­note13_rehzda9 13 AZ H.B. 2337, AZ S.B. 1574, AZ S.B. 1629, NH H.B. 1567, OK H.B. 3677.  For example, AZ S.B. 1574 would make it a misde­meanor for any county recorder to fail to comply with an unclear and complic­ated record­keep­ing require­ment about “irreg­u­lar­it­ies” on Elec­tion Day, and OK H.B. 3677 would make it a felony to obstruct the view or restrict the free move­ment of a poll watcher, which could empower more aggress­ive poll watcher inter­fer­ence at polling places.

Bills that trans­fer author­ity of elec­tions

Five bills moving in two states (Arizona and Kansas) would trans­fer author­ity over specific aspects of elec­tion admin­is­tra­tion to differ­ent actors in ways that could open the door to polit­ical inter­fer­ence. foot­note14_3j8zh1o 14 AZ H.B. 2289, AZ H.B. 2378, AZ S.B. 1285, AZ S.B. 2379, KS S.B. 418.  For example, AZ S.B. 2379 would allow the legis­lature to appoint its own field person­nel to review elec­tronic voting systems on Elec­tion Day and recom­mend changes to voting proced­ures. These field person­nel would be duplic­at­ing exist­ing stat­utor­ily mandated efforts by the secret­ary of state and would not be subject to any clear trans­par­ency or secur­ity require­ments.

Restrict­ive Legis­la­tion

Between Janu­ary 1 and May 4, Arizona and Missis­sippi enacted two laws that restrict access to the vote. foot­note15_n5g4ugj 15 AZ H.B. 2492, MS H.B. 1510.  Missouri, New Hamp­shire, and Oklahoma each have a restrict­ive bill that passed both cham­bers and was ready for the governor’s signa­ture or veto as of May 4. foot­note16_c0615x6 16 MO H.B. 1878, NH S.B. 418, OK H.B. 3365. For the purposes of the counts in this report, these three bills are all considered “moving.”  Addi­tion­ally, the Michigan Legis­lature passed two bills with restrict­ive provi­sions, but the governor vetoed both. In Wiscon­sin, state lawmakers passed three bills with restrict­ive provi­sions that the governor also vetoed. foot­note17_jdrxmbj 17 MI H.B. 4127, MI H.B. 4128, WI S.B. 938, WI S.B. 939, WI S.B. 945.

Although legis­latures have been slow to pass restrict­ive legis­la­tion, at least 34 bills with restrict­ive provi­sions are still moving through 11 state legis­latures. foot­note18_zlqr­fnc 18 Restrict­ive bills are moving in Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, Massachu­setts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hamp­shire, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

Over­all, lawmakers in 39 states have considered at least 393 restrict­ive bills for the 2022 legis­lat­ive session. foot­note19_qpyekw7 19 Restrict­ive bills were proposed for or carried over into the 2022 legis­lat­ive session in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Cali­for­nia, Color­ado, Delaware, Geor­gia, Idaho, Illinois, Indi­ana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisi­ana, Mary­land, Massachu­setts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missis­sippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hamp­shire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Caro­lina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Caro­lina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Wash­ing­ton, West Virginia, Wiscon­sin, and Wyom­ing.

Enacted Restrict­ive Legis­la­tion

Arizona and Missis­sippi have enacted restrict­ive docu­ment­ary proof of citizen­ship laws for voter regis­tra­tion. The Missis­sippi law will be effect­ive for the 2022 midterm elec­tions; the Arizona law will go into effect at the end of 2022. The laws were enacted despite the U.S. Elec­tion Assist­ance Commis­sion determ­in­ing that docu­ment­ary proof of citizen­ship require­ments are not neces­sary to determ­ine a voter’s eligib­il­ity and despite a federal court strik­ing down similar require­ments last year. Docu­ment­ary proof of citizen­ship laws may dispro­por­tion­ately impact Black and Latino voters and elderly, low-income, and rural voters. 

The Arizona law, already subject to legal chal­lenges, will expand the state’s proof of citizen­ship require­ment for voter regis­tra­tion. foot­note20_tdztrp7 20 AZ H.B. 2492.  Under current state law, if an indi­vidual registers to vote in Arizona without show­ing proof of citizen­ship, they are entitled to vote only in federal elec­tions. The new law requires elec­tion offi­cials to verify applic­ants’ citizen­ship status through exist­ing data­bases, and if they are unable to do so, to require applic­ants to provide docu­ment­ary proof of citizen­ship. Voters unable to provide docu­ment­ary proof of citizen­ship will be prohib­ited from voting in pres­id­en­tial elec­tions and from voting by mail in all federal elec­tions, in addi­tion to already being barred from voting in state and local elec­tions.

The law defies the Supreme Court’s hold­ing in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Coun­cil of Arizona, Inc. that indi­vidu­als regis­ter­ing to vote using the federal voter regis­tra­tion applic­a­tion need not provide docu­ment­ary proof of citizen­ship. foot­note21_qdt2ork 21 570 U.S. 1, 20 (2013).  Addi­tion­ally, because this new law may retro­act­ively require docu­ment­ary proof of citizen­ship from currently registered voters, it has been estim­ated that as many as 200,000 voters — some of whom have been registered voters for decades — could be at risk of having their regis­tra­tions canceled. The new law also includes provi­sions requir­ing the state attor­ney general to invest­ig­ate and poten­tially prosec­ute certain applic­ants who are unable to provide docu­ment­ary proof of citizen­ship.

Missis­sip­pi’s law imposes a new docu­ment­ary proof of citizen­ship require­ment in the state. foot­note22_2c7im2k 22 MS H.B. 1510.  Its restrict­ive impact will likely be more modest than Arizon­a’s law above because voter regis­tra­tion applic­ants may only be asked for docu­ment­ary proof of citizen­ship after elec­tion offi­cials have cross-checked two govern­ment data­bases. Voter regis­tra­tion applic­ants’ citizen­ship status will be checked against the state’s Depart­ment of Public Safety data­base and, if neces­sary, against a U.S. Citizen­ship and Immig­ra­tion Service (USCIS) data­base. If an applic­ant is flagged as a noncit­izen, they must provide docu­ment­ary proof of citizen­ship within 30 days. But citizen­ship data in state public safety data­bases as well as the USCIS data­base have been found unre­li­able, and this law could result in unlaw­ful and inac­cur­ate voter purges.

In addi­tion to these enacted laws, a restrict­ive voting ballot initi­at­ive in Arizona passed both houses and will be placed on the ballot for voters in the Novem­ber general elec­tion. foot­note23_zoez­swk 23 AZ S.C.R. 1012.  If success­ful, the ballot initi­at­ive would require mail voters to provide a state license, Social Secur­ity, or unique voter iden­ti­fic­a­tion number when return­ing their ballots. A similar law enacted in Texas last year led to signi­fic­ant mail ballot rejec­tions during Texas’s primary elec­tion earlier this year. Addi­tion­ally, the ballot initi­at­ive would limit the types of ID that a voter can present when voting in person by elim­in­at­ing the use of non-photo­graphic iden­ti­fic­a­tion altern­at­ives. The resol­u­tion would empower any voter in the state to sue elec­tion offi­cials to compel enforce­ment with the new ID provi­sions, poten­tially drown­ing elec­tion offi­cials in lawsuits and divert­ing resources from elec­tion oper­a­tions.

Restrict­ive Bills That Are Moving

As of May 4, at least 34 bills with restrict­ive provi­sions are moving in 11 states. The moving restrict­ive bills focus on restric­tions to mail voting, new voter ID require­ments, and voter regis­tra­tion, among other barri­ers to voting.

Restrict­ing access to mail voting. Of the restrict­ive bills that are moving, almost three-fourths (25 bills in 10 states) would curtail access to mail voting. foot­note24_x4tycrn 24 AZ H.B. 2238, AZ H.B. 2289, AZ H.B. 2786, AZ H.C.R. 2025, IA H.R. 2526, IA S.F. 2343, KS H.B. 2056, MA S. 2554, MI H.B. 5268, MI H.B. 5288, MI S.B. 273, MI S.B. 285, MI S.B. 308, MO H.B. 1878, NH H.B. 1153, NY A.B. 4569, NY A.B. 9125, PA H.B. 1800, PA H.J.R. 1596, PA S.B. 322, PA S.B. 1200, PA S.J.R. 735, RI H.B. 7830, RI S.B. 2354, RI S.B. 2530.  Eight bills in five states would either impose a new or stricter ID require­ment for mail voting, such as provid­ing a driver’s license number or partial Social Secur­ity number to apply for or return mail ballots. foot­note25_wu0yp9m 25 AZ H.C.R. 2025, IA H.F. 2526, IA S.F. 2343, MI S.B. 285, NY A.B. 9125, PA H.B. 1800, PA H.J.R. 1596, PA S.J.R. 735.  Another six bills in five states would limit voters’ access to mail ballot drop boxes or prohibit the use of mail ballot drop boxes alto­gether. foot­note26_aouyix0 26 AZ H.B. 2238, KS H.B. 2056, MI S.B. 273, PA H.B. 1800, PA S.B. 1200, RI H.B. 7830.

Other restric­tions on mail voting in motion include legis­la­tion that would shorten the dead­line to apply for a mail ballot or return a mail ballot; repeal no-excuse mail voting; and prohibit anyone, includ­ing an elec­tion offi­cial, from send­ing out unso­li­cited mail ballots. foot­note27_3lfkn5m 27 AZ H.B. 2289, KS H.B. 2056, MA S. 2554, MI H.B. 5268, NH H.B. 1153, NY A.B. 4569, PA H.B. 1800, RI S.B. 2354.

Impos­ing new or stricter voter ID require­ments. Nine bills moving in five states (Arizona, Missouri, New Hamp­shire, New York, Pennsylvania) would imple­ment new or stricter voter ID require­ments for in-person voting. foot­note28_90ya8r7 28 AZ H.B. 2289, AZ H.C.R. 2025, MO H.B. 1878, NH H.B. 1542, NH S.B. 418, NY A.B. 9125, PA H.J.R. 1596, PA S.J.R. 106, PA S.J.R. 735.  For example, a New Hamp­shire bill would elim­in­ate a decades-old policy of provid­ing Elec­tion Day regis­tra­tion to all voters by requir­ing voters regis­ter­ing on Elec­tion Day to vote by provi­sional ballot if they do not have an approved ID. foot­note29_hx24taj 29 NH S.B. 418.

Making voter regis­tra­tion more diffi­cult. Five bills moving in five states would make voter regis­tra­tion more diffi­cult, includ­ing short­en­ing the dead­line to register to vote, impos­ing new resid­ency require­ments that could impede students’ abil­ity to vote, and prohib­it­ing compens­a­tion for anyone who soli­cits a voter regis­tra­tion applic­a­tion, which could impose a signi­fic­ant burden on voter regis­tra­tion drives. foot­note30_aijwlpm 30 MO H.B. 1878, NH C.A.C.R. 36, NY S.B. 4447, PA H.B. 1800, RI H.B. 7830.

Expans­ive Legis­la­tion

Between Janu­ary 1 and May 4, Arizona, Connecti­cut, New York, and Oregon have enacted five laws that expand access to the vote. foot­note31_sc568bd 31 AZ H.B. 2119, AZ S.B. 1638, NY S.B. 7565, CT H.B. 5262, OR H.B. 4133.  Mary­land and Oklahoma also have three expans­ive bills that passed both cham­bers and were ready for the governor’s signa­ture or veto as of May 4. foot­note32_9u68z83 32 MD H.B. 862, MD S.B. 163, OK H.B. 1711. For the purposes of the counts in this report, these three bills are all considered “moving.”  At least 48 bills with expans­ive provi­sions are moving through 16 state legis­latures and the DC City Coun­cil. foot­note33_ruq5wca 33 Expans­ive bills are moving in Arizona, Cali­for­nia, Delaware, Iowa, Louisi­ana, Mary­land, Massachu­setts, Michigan, New Hamp­shire, New York, North Caro­lina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Caro­lina, Wash­ing­ton, and Wash­ing­ton, DC.

Over­all, lawmakers in 44 states and Wash­ing­ton, DC, have considered at least 596 expans­ive bills for the 2022 legis­lat­ive session. foot­note34_2gr5u9u 34 Expans­ive bills were proposed for or carried over into the 2022 legis­lat­ive session in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Cali­for­nia, Color­ado, Connecti­cut, Delaware, , Flor­ida, Geor­gia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indi­ana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisi­ana, Maine, Mary­land, Massachu­setts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missis­sippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hamp­shire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Caro­lina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Caro­lina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Wash­ing­ton, West Virginia, Wiscon­sin, and Wash­ing­ton, DC.

Enacted Expans­ive Legis­la­tion

One Arizona law elim­in­ates the two-year wait­ing period for indi­vidu­als with multiple felony convic­tions to apply to have their voting rights restored. foot­note35_xk464mp 35 AZ H.B. 2119.  The other Arizona law requires cities and towns with popu­la­tions greater than 20,000 to provide an access­ible mail voting option for blind and visu­ally impaired voters. foot­note36_co5m84b 36 AZ S.B. 1638.

The Connecti­cut law expands absentee voting excuses to allow voters who will be unable to appear at their polling place during some — rather than all — hours of voting on Elec­tion Day to vote by mail. foot­note37_mm106f8 37 CT H.B. 5262.  The law also expands mail voting to care­takers of indi­vidu­als who are sick or have disab­il­it­ies.

The New York law extends the expan­ded defin­i­tion of “illness” for voting absentee to include the risk of contract­ing or spread­ing a disease through the end of 2022. foot­note38_4tjpn1u 38 NY S.B. 7565.  The expan­ded defin­i­tion of illness had expired in Janu­ary of this year.

The Oregon law expands online voter regis­tra­tion to indi­vidu­als without a DMV record. foot­note39_ox11zdg 39 OR H.B. 4133.  Under the new law, voters with a Social Secur­ity number can use that number to register to vote online. Addi­tion­ally, voter regis­tra­tion organ­iz­a­tions approved by the secret­ary of state may now elec­tron­ic­ally submit voter regis­tra­tion cards on behalf of voters.

Arizona H.B. 2119 and the Connecti­cut and New York laws will be in effect for the 2022 midterm elec­tions, while AZ S.B. 1638 will be effect­ive on Decem­ber 31, 2022; the Oregon Secret­ary of State has until 2026 to imple­ment the enacted law.

Expans­ive Bills That Are Moving

Access to mail voting. Over a third of the expans­ive bills moving through state legis­latures (19 bills in nine states and Wash­ing­ton, DC) are focused on expand­ing mail voting. foot­note40_iet9blt 40 CA A.B. 2815, DC C.B. 507, MA H. 76, MA S. 2554, MD H.B. 862, MD S.B. 163, MI H.B. 4839, NC H.B. 782, NY A.B. 1084, NY A.B. 4128, NY S.B. 253, NY S.B. 492, OK H.B. 1711, OK H.B. 1843, PA H.B. 1800, RI H.B. 7100, RI H.B. 7831, RI H.B. 7832, RI S.B. 2007.  The bills would expand the use of absentee ballot drop boxes, create or extend no-excuse absentee voting, require elec­tion offi­cials to send applic­a­tions to all eligible voters, require prepaid post­age on mail ballot return envel­opes, and allow voters to request to auto­mat­ic­ally receive absentee ballots for all elec­tions.

Easier voter regis­tra­tion. Fifteen bills moving in 10 states would create more oppor­tun­it­ies for indi­vidu­als to register to vote, includ­ing bills that would imple­ment same-day or Elec­tion Day regis­tra­tion, expand auto­matic voter regis­tra­tion, and allow indi­vidu­als to register to vote online. foot­note41_3ojx­siw 41 AZ S.B. 1170, DE H.B. 25, LA H.B. 423, MA H.B. 4367, MA S. 2554, NC S.B. 724, NH H.B. 1203, NY S.B. 2951, PA H.B. 1800, PA H.J.R. 1596, RI H.B. 7515, RI H.J.R 7225, RI S.B. 2627, RI S.J.R. 2216, WA S.B. 5636.

Expand­ing voting access for voters with disab­il­it­ies. Eleven bills in six states and the District of Columbia would make voting more access­ible for voters with disab­il­it­ies, includ­ing bills that would expand access to absentee ballots for voters with certain disab­il­it­ies and a bill that would allow a voter with a disab­il­ity to mark a mail ballot instead of sign­ing it. foot­note42_hpaw­cql 42 DC C.B. 507, MA H. 4095, MA S. 2519, MA S. 2554, NC S.B. 724, NH H.B. 1594, OK H.B. 1711, PA H.B. 1800, RI H.B. 7100, RI H.B. 7832, RI S.B. 2007.

Voting rights restor­a­tion. Three bills or resol­u­tions in three states (Iowa, Massachu­setts, Rhode Island) would extend the voting rights or ballot access of indi­vidu­als with past felony convic­tions, includ­ing auto­matic restor­a­tion of the right to vote and requir­ing voter regis­tra­tion efforts inside correc­tional facil­it­ies. foot­note43_4mnsien 43 IA H.J.R. 11, MA S. 2554, RI S.B. 2635.

End Notes